Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to wrap-up my 2019 year of reading. Like 2017 and 2018, I participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. I pledged to read forty books, I read seventy-seven; out of those, sixty were books new to me, and the remaining re-reads.
This year, I won’t talk about all the books I read. Instead, I’ll focus on listing my favorite reads of 2019. Like last year, I will only talk about books that are available in English. Several of my favorites are Swedish, but I will list them under their English title.
If you’re interested in a comprehensive list of the books I read in 2019, you can find it HERE on my Goodreads page.
As usual, the bulk of my reading 2019 were book series. Contrary to appearances, I don’t actually become obsessed with every series I read.
This year, for example, I read the first novel in Jim Butchers popular, The Dresden Files. It was okay, but not enough to make me pick-up the next one. Another was Matteo Strukul’s, Medici Chronicles, which was pretty bad.
My point is, if I love a series, it’s because I enjoy every single book enough to continue to the next one. If I don’t, I’ll abandon it without a second thought.
Author: Terry Pratchett
If you’ve followed, or even just peaked around this blog, you won’t be surprised that The Discworld series is on this list. 2019 was the year I finish my read-though of all the adult novels in the series. What an incredible journey it’s been.
To me, the Discworld has become an old friend, a place of comfort. Instead of background music, I casually re-listen to my favorite books over and over. I love this series to bits.
Author: Tove Jansson
When tallying up the number of books I read this year, I included these as new reads. In truth, it was more a case of rediscovering them. I remember the picture books being among my favorites as a child, and I have vague memories of the novels from my childhood.
But, reading them as an adult was quite a different experience.
I was able to pick-up on all the nuances, melancholy, and poignant atmosphere in a way you can’t as a child. I finally understood why there is an ongoing debate among fans and scholars if these novels really should be considered children’s literature.
If you’re curious about the Moomin books, I’ve written a long post about them HERE.
How to Train your Dragon
Author: Cressida Cowell
This was, without a doubt, the funniest read of the year; laugh-out-loud funny.
Last Easter, I gave my friends son the first book (out of twelve published so far). Yes, I’m that fun adult who gives children books instead of candy in their Easter eggs.
Anyway, he wanted me to read it to him, but we only made it through two pages before we were both laughing so hard we had to stop. On my way home that night, I found the first audiobook, and I was hooked.
At this point, I should mention that, in these books, Toothless is not quite the dragon we’re used to seeing. He’s much smaller, fussy, and kind of a coward. But he’s adorable. As for a favorite, I can’t pick-one, read them all!
This series is a first for me; I actually prefer the Swedish translation to the original English text. There’s something about the author’s voice and play with words that work incredibly well with the Swedish language.
Reading this, you could make the assumption that I, a soon-to-be thirty-eight-year-old woman, have an eight-year-old’s sense of humor. Or, you can suppress the dull, grown-up inside of you and read some hilarious books.
The Villanelle Series
The second book in Luke Jennings trilogy about the assassin Villanelle and MI5 Agent Eve Polastri, No Tomorrow, is high on my list of 2019 favorites.
It’s thrilling, sexy, elegant, and has a brilliant plot-twist. You can read my review of the book HERE.
I’ve also written a blog-post where I compare the books and the BBC America adaptation, Killing Eve. You can find it HERE.
I’m so impatient for the third book, End Game, releasing on June 11th this year.
I read more non-fiction this year than I usually do. Most of them were books about history. A few were books on decluttering and minimalism. I’m not a minimalist, but I found them helpful as I decluttered my home.
They also helped me deal with the guilt of giving away things I inherited from my mother after she passed away in 2015.
My favorite non-fiction books of 2019 we’re both books about mythology.
In this book, Swedish author and illustrator Johan Egerkrans re-tells some of the more entertaining Sagas from Norse mythology.
He begins with the creation myth that sees Odin and his two brothers slay the primordial giant Ymir and shape the world from his body parts.
Yes, it’s a little gross, but honestly, isn’t it more fun believing that the sun and the moon are the eyeballs of an ancient giant?
I love the way Egerkrans interprets these gods, both in his text and his gorgeous illustrations.
This is the second book in Stephen Fry’s journey though Greek Mythology.
The first book, Mythos, focused on the Greek Gods and Titans. It’s not necessary to read the first book, but it helps.
Heroes is about well, heroes. In this book, you’ll meet Herakles (Hercules) Andromeda, Jason and his Argonauts, and many more.
Like the first book, Heroes is told in Stephen Fry’s witty voice. I highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by the author.
He retells these stories with an enthusiasm that’s catching but still accessible for a mythology novice.
I didn’t only read series this year. Although many of my favorite fiction books were part of a series, I did read stand-alone novels as well.
These are my favorite fiction book of 2019.
You can’t go wrong with Neil Gaiman. At least I can’t. As soon as I pick up a book by him, it’s almost like it’s fated to be a favorite.
This story, about a middle-aged man rediscovering his past, the good and the frightening, is beautiful, heartwarming, and terrifying.
One scene in particular, made me slightly more sympathetic to my best friend’s life-long phobia of worms.
Definitely the most beautiful book of the year. It’s hard to tell just from this picture, but the physical book is gorgeous, gorgeous!
The book takes place in a fictional 19th century England where “bookbinders” can remove people’s unwanted memories and bind them in a book.
The premise is fascinating, and the moral and ethical questions that arise are thought-provoking.
However, as the story slowly unfolds, it reveals itself to be a beautiful love story. I’m not a big romance fan, but this was lovely.
Nordic Noir usually bore me. But, when it takes place in a gritty, realistic 18th century Stockholm, even I’m intrigued.
Crippled ex-soldier Mickel Cardell and Cecil Winge, consulting detective to the Stockholm police, are drawn into each-others lives as they try to find the murderer.
This book is fantastic but not for the squeamish. It’s well-researched, the characters are amazing, and the setting is so well-written.
It’s also grotesque.
If you’re sensitive to descriptions of pain, humiliation, torture, sexual assault, and sadistic characters, do not read this!
That’s it. That’s my 2019 in books. Overall, it’s been a good reading year for me. Most of the books I’ve read this year have been good. Some were average, many were fantastic. I only abandoned a few books.
For the 2020 Goodreads challenge I’ve pledged forty-five books. I read a lot more than that this past year but, for me, reading is not a competition. It shouldn’t be a chore, a cause of stress, or pressure.
For me, forty-five books is a reasonable goal. One I believe I can achieve simply by reading for pleasure.
So, how was your bookish 2019, and what is your plans for this one?